Guest Post: 1202 Social Media Alone is Not Enough. Your Small Business Needs a “Big” Website

Social Media has truly been a game changer in how businesses connect with their customers. What used to be a cumbersome and expensive activity has been made very easy, but at the same time it has also become a constant battle for customer attention.

Social media has also helped the customers. It is much easier for them to connect with businesses. No longer do they have to rely on the traditional 1-800 number, enduring long hold times. They can simply post a question and then the business can answer them (within the same day hopefully). On the flip side, angry customers can post their scathing reviews for the world to see. Over all social media has really become a necessity for business if they want to stay valid in this world. And many businesses have been milking social media for all its worth, some even going as far as using it as a substitute for having a professional website. While social media is necessary for achieving success, especially for small businesses it can in no way substitute a business website. In order to truly milk social media, you have to pair it with a website.

Why do you need a big website along an efficient social media presence?

Recently Facebook added the sell feature on to pages, in short turning business pages into small business online stores. This feature again raised a slew of questions that why do we need a website anymore? You can even have a proper e-store running on a Facebook page. This question is especially asked by small businesses or start-ups who have limited budgets. Why should they put a strain on what are often shoe-string budgets to make a website, when they get almost the same level of functionality from a social media presence alone?

The market is not what it was 15 years ago

15 years back you could do without a website till you got to a level of financial success. However the market dynamics have considerably changed since then. Internet penetration in first world countries is especially at levels we had never nearly considered. And the speed at which the online world is expanding puts it a level where we can say that the virtual online world is one that exists in parallel of real one. It is that vast.

So if your business does not have a concrete presence in the online world then you do not appear as a credible business. Before we go anywhere, we Google it. If I only get Facebook page results, that makes your business look like an amateur set-up and makes it lose its credibility. Just like it is expected for a store to have a billboard, consumers expect businesses to have their own websites, just for the sake of contact details and address if not anything else.

Many years ago it used to be a shop front that served as the first impression of the establishment. Now it is the website that makes for the first impression. You need a good website to ensure you grab people’s interest and convert that interest into a sale.

A website is effectively your businesses own branch on the virtual world

You can put up your products up for sale on Facebook, but that is just like putting your products on some other store’s shelves. You cannot influence the environment of the store to shape customer experience. Your products are the mercy of someone else. You cannot control customer shopping experience on Facebook. Facebook even changes the themes when and as they wish. But a website is somewhere you are in full control and give the customer a shopping experience you feel would be the best way to market yourself. For example some e-stores do not opt for a traditional slider and go the “Tinder” way that is the customers view one product at a time.

Also a basic feature that having your own website gives you is recommending customers their next possible purchase, based on their present viewing history. This is something that you lose your products on social media.

Social media has also restrictions on photo sizes that you can upload. This may be a drawback as intricate details may be lost when you compress file size.

Also many people might not want to buy from Facebook, so not having a website means lost sales. And a website along with a brick and mortar store is the perfect combo. Your brick and mortar store gives the customers who want to “feel and buy” what they want and online customers get the feasibility of buying from wherever at whatever time they want.

A website is a business you control and shape

Unlike Facebook you are in complete control. How your business works in completely on you. Just like Facebook gives you a free “shelf” to display your products, businesses with successful e-commerce website have gone on to sell “shelves” on their websites. A website has a huge potential for revenue making and is only limited by your imagination. A small business gains by investing in a website as they gain the option of multiple income streams from one smart investment!

One last thing to mention is that it is very important you choose a professional company to do the development for you. This is because you might require after-sales services, and freelancers are not that reliable.


About the Author

Rachael Everly is an undergraduate student who loves to write on the topics related business, finance, technology and education. Follow @RachaelEverly for further updates



Guest Post: How Digital Technology Is Transforming Customer Data Collection

Digital business is increasing the potential monetary value of data, but most companies aren’t leveraging this valuable resource. Smart devices, mobile technology and social media are increasing the volume and variety of customer data available at an accelerated rate, turning data brokering into a multibillion dollar business while simultaneously making data more affordable than ever. General information about consumers is now available for about $0.50 per 1,000 people, estimates the Financial Times. Read on for the trends that are transforming data collection and the tools that smart companies are using to turn data into profit.

Internet of Things

One of the biggest technology trends is the increasing presence of smart electronic devices, a trend known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Earlier stages of the Internet were centered around personal computers and then mobile phones, and now the Internet of Things includes all sorts of smart devices, from smart houses to smart TVs to smart cars, watches and clothes.

All these devices collect data that is centered around the consumers who use these devices. This enables businesses to organize their market research and advertising efforts around the totality of data as well as individual uses, a trend known as marketing personalization. The Internet of Things means that the data collected can conceivably be used to personalize ads they see in their car, at work and while shopping.

Location-Based Data

The Internet of Things forms a digital mesh that enables consumers and their data to be pinpointed by location. Smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note5 are GPS-enabled, allowing marketers to collect data on their location and deliver personalized messages that appeal to customers at specific locations.

One of the emerging applications of this is beacon marketing, which identifies when customers are entering stores to deliver customized coupons, discounts and other special offers. For instance, Hillshire Brands saw a 36 percent increase in brand awareness and a 20 percent increase in purchase intent by using beacon technology.

Context-Sensitive Data

Data collection is becoming more context-sensitive. For instance, a webpage that displays well on a desktop screen needs to adjust to be viewable on a smaller mobile device screen. This means that the site needs to collect context-sensitive data about the viewer’s device and screen size.

Another context-sensitive use of data is retargeted advertising, when information gathered on one device follows users as they use other devices. For instance, Yahoo recently added a feature to its Gemini ad marketplace that enables advertisers to send retargeted ads to customers on websites, apps and Yahoo interest categories based on their browsing behavior.

Social Media Data

One of the most important data collection sources is social media. CMS Wire reports that 90 percent of the data available today was collected over the past two years and 80 percent of it came from social media use.

Social sites are seeking to capitalize on this, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google and YouTube all introducing buy button features last year. In 2016, social media brand engagement and buying will drive data collection, predicts Brandwatch.


About the Author

Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.


SAP Hybris -Commerce / IOT / CRM Event 2016

After attending the SAP Hybris IOT/ CRM event, I was very impressed to see a vendor really connect the dots between commerce and customer service and customer experience. Commerce is really where the rubber meets the road. At the end of the day, if the customer experience is poor, customers will abandon shopping carts and revenue will suffer. But SAP Hybris is helping customers handle this. SAP Hybris is looking to become partners with brands in their digital transformation. They deliver  customer data management, context-driven marketing tools and unified commerce processes for all a brand’s channels.

  • SAP Hybris Commerce Solution: This solution helps brands to target and engage with your customers better, wherever they are. As the world of commerce continues to change, this can give customers a consistent and meaningful experience – across every channel, every time.  The core hybris solution ranks consistently among the top commerce software platforms worldwide. Their B2B and B2C commerce applications include an Omni-Channel Offering, Product Content Management (also known as Master Data Management or Product Information Management), Order Managementhybris Marketing Conversion, and powerful search and merchandising. And Hybris, at its core, is omni-channel. The commerce software helps integrate all digital and physical customer touchpoints onto a single platform – including online, mobile, point-of-sale, call center, social media and print. Regardless of your industry, SAP can help to create contextual, personalized and relevant customer experiences that boost loyalty and increase sales. Brands can kick-start their commerce project in just a few months through the hybris Commerce Accelerator. Omni-channel solutions are pre-configured for B2C and B2B, and for specific regions and industries.
  • SAP Hybris Marketing: This solution combines superior customer insight with a highly agile and scalable platform. Brands can reach their customers at all points of their journey, and boost loyalty by responding to real-time data to deliver the best possible customer experience. Note that traditional marketing campaigns can fall short at engaging the individual customer. They can lack the basic knowledge of customer’s wants and needs and blast indiscriminate messages to the masses. However, Hybris Marketing enables marketers to develop a deeper understanding of customers; i.e., to know what they have done, what they may do and most importantly what they are doing now. Brands can gain real-time insights into the context of each customer and leverage these insights to deliver highly individualized customer experiences across channels. Here are some of the benefits:
  1. Understand Real-Time Customer Intents. Dynamically capture and enrich customer profiles across all sources into a single view, leverage implicit customer signals to gain insights into customer’s real-time intents
  2. Deliver Unique Customer Experiences. Convert ‘in-the-moment’ opportunities to dynamically deliver contextually relevant customer experiences across channels. Create new engagements to increase online community participation and customer loyalty
  3. Market with Speed and Agility. Proactively react to customer opportunities with increased visibility and alignment of the marketing process, resources, and performance.
  • Products for Billing: SAP Hybris Billing helps brands to monetize their digital transformation and renovate their revenue management processes with a highly agile and scalable platform. SAP allows customers to build flexible pricing models to meet their B2C and B2B customer needs as well as share revenues with partners of their business network.

SAP /IOT: Devices of all types now communicate over the Internet, creating unprecedented potential for sales and service in the utilities industries. IoT items include smart home appliances, thermostats, meters and monitoring software, cars, alternate power devices, irrigation technology, fleet vehicles, store sensors, networked sensors, and software integrated with machinery. All of these support a new and diverse collection of customers and consumers: more aware, expecting individualized service, and a radically changing the supplier/customer relationship. The connectivity and communication abilities of devices of all sizes will vastly change every aspect of marketing, delivery, and support of utilities, as it has done with other industries. Countries, cities, and individual consumers are making significant changes in their consumption and usage of utility-related resources. Some of these include:

>> More reliable connectivity, increased data availability, and lower price points make virtually anything connectible

>> Every business must now consider itself a digital business, regardless what product or service is being sold

> Every business must own its data and make it available across the organization and to consumers

Businesses are preparing for a future where software becomes more important than hardware and data becomes more important than products. A new generation of consumer (the prosumer) is becoming an active partner in the production and distribution cycle. What are the benefits?

  • Better use of a utility’s products and services, making consumption and customer relations healthier
  • The opportunity to upsell and/or to offer upgrades for newer, better, and more effective products and services
  • Predictive service based on warnings, alarms, or analytics sent by the devices themselves
  • Tailored pricing – flexible entitlements based on usage, frequency or time, and metering
  • Wider range of services– extension into new service areas
  • Enables direct conversations between customer devices and business platforms
  • Analyzes large quantities of data in real-time against defined business KPIs
  • Lower regulatory risk and cost of compliance through increased visibility and response.

The event was a very important one in the history of SAP. These are key aspects to the digital transformation of any company and SAP’s ability to help their customers transform key aspects of their business are critical. This is certainly not your grandpas’ CRM.

@Drnatalie Petouhoff

Covering Customer Experience, Marketing, IOT and Digital Transformation.


Capgemini Announces Expanded Collaboration with Amazon Web Services

Capgemini Is Helping Clients to Migrate Application on AWS. Capgemini announced that it is dedicating more global resources to help enterprise customers build and migrate applications on Amazon Web Services (AWS). As part of its extended cloud services program, which includes cloud advisory, migration and managed business services, ‘Capgemini Cloud Choice with Amazon Web Services’ will see Capgemini further invest in its dedicated migration factory, leverage AWS technology and develop sector-specific IP solutions hosted on AWS.

How Big is the Team? The Capgemini migration factory for AWS, in Chennai and Bangalore, will support customers’ migration of enterprise applications to the AWS Cloud. More than 1000 professionals are anticipated to be trained across India, the UK, the US, Netherlands and France by the end of 2016. The migration factory will use the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF) planning tool as part of its methodology to enable enterprises to migrate workloads faster and more efficiently to the AWS Cloud. 

A Note From the Executives: Terry Wise, Vice President of Worldwide Partner Ecosystem, Amazon Web Services, Inc. said: “We are delighted to be working with Capgemini as they expand their commitment to AWS customers including a dedicated migration factory. With our respective strengths and methodologies, Capgemini and AWS help enterprise customers become more agile in building and migrating applications, thereby accelerating their transformation to the AWS Cloud.”
What Are the Key Goals Of Capgemni’s AWS? A key goal of Capgemini’s increased focus on AWS will be to develop cloud advisory, migration to AWS and managed offerings specifically for the financial services sector, based on Capgemini IP hosted on the AWS Cloud. One of the offerings already available in this area is Capgemini’s Insurance Connect , a fully managed business service insurance platform which enables core processing, digital services and insights and analytics on AWS. For insurers facing significant variance in workload demands, access to the highly scalable AWS Cloud provides a cost-effective way to integrate functions (such as CRM, policy administration and underwriting) and increase computing capacity on a pay-per-use basis with minimal upfront investment.

What Other Industries Will Benefit from Capgemni and AWS? Asset-intensive industries (such as energy and utilities) will also benefit from the extension of this working relationship, as Capgemini already provides its Digital Industrial Asset Lifecycle Management solution  as a managed business service built on AWS. This on-premises offering is now also available on the AWS Cloud and provides an environment which can be up and running in as little as fifteen minutes. It gives access to a scalable and fast–to-deploy digital asset hub, enabling organizations to advance their digital transformation journey, as well as an accelerated path for improved health and safety compliance, reduction of project costs and improvement of operational efficiency. 

SAP Customers:Customers looking to migrate their existing SAP® solutions to the cloud or to adopt SAP® S/4HANA will also greatly benefit from this expanded collaboration between Capgemini and AWS, with the ability to either get on the latest release of SAP solutions, optimize their workload on the cloud or consume through an integrated delivery model. Also, Capgemini’s SAP certified BAiO (Business All-in-One)  industry specific and Line of Business IP solutions are now available on SAP HANA, optimized to run on the AWS cloud and allowing customers in most industries to be up and running in as little as 6 weeks.

How Long Has the Capgemini and AWS Relationship Existed? Capgemini shares a longstanding relationship with AWS which dates back to 2008, with both parties working to bring business solutions to enterprise customers leveraging Capgemini’s industry expertise coupled with AWS’s technology such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Redshift. Examples of past innovations include Capgemini’s SAP OnePath and COMPLETE. Capgemini is a Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN).

Capgemini’s increased focus on AWS is an essential component of Capgemini’s Cloud Services program, ‘Cloud Choice’, enabled through collaboration with a broad ecosystem of cloud partners, and includes a range of services: Business Cloud Assessment and Strategy, proof of concepts, migrating applications to the Cloud, Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, Business Process as a Service and Cybersecurity. 

Want more details on the journey? A Note From The Executives: Franck Greverie, Capgemini’s Global Leader for Cloud Services adds: “The continued execution of our client-centric strategy demands even more targeted solutions and responses for our clients’ most challenging business demands. Cloud Choice with Amazon Web Services combines the strength of Capgemini’s Cloud Services global capabilities and delivery assets with the on-going technology innovation from AWS to continue to develop and deliver the right cloud solutions to our collective clients with speed, predictability, risk mitigation and sustainable business impact.” Click on this video link where Lanny Cohen, Group CTO shares his thoughts on the collaborative opportunities and the history of Capgemini’s seven-year alliance with AWS.

What Does This Mean To You Brand? Many companies are starting to realize the benefits of migrating their systems to the cloud. The question is how to get there. With this partnership, companies can be guided to move to the cloud. Where are you on your cloud Journey?

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
Covering Cloud and IoT That Drive Better Business Results and Awesome Customer Experiences

DialogTech launches SourceTrak 3.0, reinvents call tracking for digital marketers

New Call Tracking For Digital Marketing – Well if you thought the only people who cared about phone calls to brand were people in the contact center, then you may be surprised by DialogTech’s new solution.  Actually its not that surprising me – considering a good 30-50% of calls to a contact center are marketing related – like which size would be better for me, or what are the measurements of the “box” or is the delivery date different than the ship date. These are all questions that would lead someone to “buy” something or not. However, often times those “marketing” type calls go to the contact center. The contact center rarely gets credit for answering lead conversion calls, but many of them do it all the time. Now to the announcement…

DialogTech, who provides of a most comprehensive, end-to-end call attribution and conversion platform for data-driven marketers, announced a breakthrough in call tracking for digital marketing with the release of SourceTrak 3.0. Nearly two years in the making, SourceTrak 3.0 enables the world’s largest organizations to realize the full benefits of call tracking for digital marketing, without the traditional limitations.

What is Included In This New Call Tracking for Digital Marketing?

According to eMarketer, 62.6 percent of digital ad spending in the U.S. this year will target smartphones and mobile devices. As a result, these ads will drive 162 billion calls to businesses by 2019, according to analyst firm BIA/Kelsey. So what is important is to know which programs generate the most calls (and customers) – because its a necessary step to measure and optimize digital marketing performance.

DialogTech’s newly re-architected and enhanced SourceTrak 3.0 technology solution is designed to meet the data, affordability, reliability and ease-of-implementation requirements of Fortune 1000 companies, large multi-location organizations and the marketing agencies they work with.

Enterprise marketing teams and agencies already analyze and optimize the customer journey for the search keywords, digital ads and website interactions that generate online engagement. DialogTech’s SourceTrak 3.0 enables them to do the same for offline phone call conversions. The call data appears alongside the online data in the marketing solutions they already use and requires no change to current processes and causes no disruption to digital ads or website performance.

What is Included In This New Call Tracking for Digital Marketing?

  • Full Attribution For Every Phone Number on a Website – Provides complete call attribution data – including the search keywords, digital ads, referring websites and webpages that drove the call – for every call from every phone number displayed on a website, including every number shown in “Find a Dealer” and “Find an Agent” webpages consumers use to locate and call their closest location or agent.
  • Keyword Attribution for Every Call From Google AdWords – Whether a call comes from a “Call” button in a Google search ad or from a searcher who clicks through to a website, SourceTrak 3.0 captures complete keyword, session and caller data for every call. That call attribution data, as well as any revenue generated from the call, can be imported directly into Google AdWords alongside online data for a complete and accurate analysis of search advertising ROI.
  • Accurate, Spam-Free Call Data – SourceTrak 3.0 call attribution data is now protected by SpamSentry™ technology, which prevents spam calls from distorting marketing data and frustrating sales agents.
  • Fast, Seamless Implementation – SourceTrak 3.0 enables marketing teams and agencies to implement call tracking on any website in a few clicks without any help from IT, any negative impact on website performance or SEO ranking or any disruption to existing digital ads.
  • Affordability – Only SourceTrak 3.0 has heartbeat technology that enables businesses to capture complete call attribution with the fewest phone numbers – and lowest cost – of any call tracking provider.

SourceTrak 3.0 technology is available as part of the DialogTech Voice360® platform, which also includes an integrated suite of marketing solutions for caller qualification and scoring, contextual call routing and management, conversation analytics and spam call blocking. All SourceTrak 3.0 features are backwards compatible with SourceTrak 2.0, and all SourceTrak 2.0 users have automatic access to the new functionality.

For more information on how to get started today, contact DialogTech at

If you are part of a contact center, how many of your calls are marketing oriented vs “help me fix this” type calls? Should Marketing pay for some of the contact center costs if a percentage of the calls are lead conversion related? These are the questions we will be asking ourselves as we see Marketing, Sales and Customer Service converge into commerce.

@drNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering Customer Facing Applications.


Adobe and Google Partner to Create a Better Mobile Experience

What is the mission of Adobe?  To change the world through digital experiences.  The pace of change in how consumers engage with content is accelerating. So their mission is more relevant than it has ever been before. Consumers expect to connect with content immediately no matter where they are or what they are doing. In the personal, always-connected mobile world we now live in, the inability to deliver the right experience to the right person at the right time directly impacts engagement and the consumer relationship.

Why Did Adobe Partner with Google? Adobe has partnered with Google, alongside many others in the technology and publishing industries to support the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project and help solve the problems that are adversely affecting the mobile web experience –  namely the slow speed at which content loads and understanding audience engagement with mobile content. AMP will enable content to load instantaneously and provide a better mobile web experience for all.

What will Adobe Analytics Be Able to Measure? It will be able to measure the reach and impact of AMP experiences for publishers, while providing blazing fast speed for mobile web user experiences. For publishers, Adobe Analytics has become a fundamental part of understanding audiences, creating loyal viewers, and monetizing content, and Adobe is committed to making sure that publishers have access to the best data possible. A better mobile user experience means more browsing and content discovery for users, and quality revenue streams for publishers.  Additionally, Adobe Analytics will enable publishers to link up AMPs with their existing web data for deeper cross-channel audience understanding, and integrate this insight directly with the rest of Adobe Marketing Cloud for content and advertising optimization.

Adobe Analytics customers interested in getting started, you can download their How to Guide now: Adobe Analytics for Accelerated Mobile Pages Project

@Drnatalie petouhoff, VP and Analyst, Constellation Research Covering Customer-Facing Application



Capgemini Collaborates with Celaton on Artificial Intelligence in the Cloud

What’s the Partnership Between Capgemini And Celaton Mean to Your Company? Capgemini, consulting, technology and outsourcing services, has announced a new global collaboration with Celaton, a specialist Artificial Intelligence (AI) company, to license and use its inSTREAM, cognitive learning technology. The 3 year contract, signed between Capgemini and Celaton, will extend Capgemini’s already strong automation capabilities, help to drive further efficiencies and add Artificial Intelligence to Capgemini’s Business Services solution portfolio.

What Does Celaton’s inSTREAM Software Do? It streamlines the handling of unstructured unpredictable (and structured) content such as correspondence, claims, complaints and invoices that organizations receive by email, social media, fax and paper. This minimizes the need for human intervention and ensures that only accurate, relevant and structured data enters business systems. Unique to inSTREAM is its ability to learn through the natural consequence of processing information and collaborating with people. Capgemini’s extensive knowledge and experience in business process services will also enable Celaton to accelerate and improve inSTREAM’s capabilities.

What Will The Partnership Provide For Clients? The cooperation will enable Capgemini to increase efficiency, shorten turnaround times and enhance quality in areas where incoming documents and queries need to be processed, improving overall customer satisfaction. At a time when more and more customers expect the use of AI and modern automation tools, the alliance will help Capgemini’s Business Services advance their market leading use of automation and AI for its core business. Earlier this year, Capgemini introduced an Autonomic Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering founded on best of breed technologies to deliver intelligent automation solutions on-demand for enterprises. The Autonomic PaaS aims to improve the predictability of organizations’ operations across their infrastructure, applications and business processes. The Celaton agreement is a further commitment from Capgemini to develop advanced client solutions using intelligent automation, cognitive and AI technologies.

Is This Offered in a SaaS or Cloud Mode? The addition of Celaton inSTREAM expands Capgemini’s Business Services’ extensive Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) portfolio with an artificial intelligence-based processing solution for incoming unstructured content –which is driven by its global automation Centers of Excellence. It is an important element in ensuring the delivery of maximum value to its customers.

Notes From The Executives: Lee Beardmore, VP and Capgemini’s Business Services Chief Technology Officer said, “There is significant industry debate on how cognitive computing and artificial intelligence will impact the BPO market. We are taking our delivery from debate to global implementation and are proud to partner with Celaton as a leading vendor in the business process AI space. Building on the introduction of Capgemini’s Autonomic Platform-as-a-Service, Celaton’s technology extends the penetration of cognitive computing into our delivery of business process services.”

Andrew Anderson, CEO of Celaton said, “I am delighted that Celaton and Capgemini have committed to this global partnership. The transformational impact of AI has been proven with many organizations and yet this emerging technology is often greeted with scepticism. Capgemini’s global reach and credibility will have an impact on the perception and adoption of AI and I’m very excited that Capgemini’s customers will soon be able to realize its significant benefits.”

My POV: AI is very important to the emerging capabilities of company’s to add cognitive computing into the delivery of business processes of discerning unstructured content. And with social and digital content abounding, there is no storage of unstructured content. And there is unlimited potential in the value of this unstructured content if it can be harnessed. This duo will give brands that opportunity.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer-facing Applications That Drive Better Business Results

WHAT?!?!?!? Women Considered Better Coders – But Only If They Hide Their Gender

What Does Gender Have to Do With Coding? When a group of computer science students decided to study the way that gender bias plays out in software development communities, they assumed that coders would be prejudiced against code written by women. After all, women make up a very small percentage of software developers – 11.2% according to one 2013 survey – and the presence of sexism in all corners of the overwhelmingly male tech industry has been well documented.

You’ve Got To Be Kidding! So the student researchers were surprised when their hypothesis proved false – code written by women was in fact more likely to be approved by their peers than code written by men. But that wasn’t the end of the story: this only proved true as long as their peers didn’t realise the code had been written by a woman.

“Our results suggest that although women on GitHub may be more competent overall, bias against them exists nonetheless,” the study’s authors write. The researchers, who published their findings earlier this week looked at the behavior of software developers on GitHub, one of the largest open-source software communities in the world.

What Were The Results of the Study? Based in San Francisco, GitHub is a giant repository of code used by over 12 million people. Software developers on GitHub can collaborate on projects, scrutinise each other’s work, and suggest improvements or solutions to problems. When a developer writes code for someone else’s project, it’s called a “pull request”. The owner of the code can then decide whether or not to accept to proffered code.

  • Researchers found that code written by women was approved at a higher rate (78.6%) than code written by men (74.6%)
  • The researchers looked at approximately 3m pull requests submitted on GitHub, and found that code written by women was approved at a higher rate (78.6%) than code written by men (74.6%).
  • Looking for an explanation for this disparity, the researchers examined several different factors, such as whether women were making smaller changes to code (they were not) or whether women were outperforming men in only certain kinds of code (they were not).
  • “Women’s acceptance rates dominate over men’s for every programming language in the top 10, to various degrees,” the researchers found.
  • The researchers then queried whether women were benefiting from reverse bias – the desire of developers to promote the work of women in a field where they are such a small minority. To answer this, the authors differentiated between women whose profiles made it clear that they were female, and women developers whose profiles were gender neutral.
  • It was here that they made the disturbing discovery: women’s work was more likely to be accepted than men’s, unless “their gender is identifiable”, in which case the acceptance rate was worse than men’s.

What Do Female Coders Think About the Study? Lorna Jane Mitchell, a software developer whose work is almost entirely based on GitHub, said that it was impossible to tell whether a pull request was ignored out of bias, or just because a project owner was busy or knew another developer personally. Her profile on GitHub clearly identifies her as female, something she won’t be changing based on the results of this study.

“I have considered how wise it is to have a gender-obvious profile and to me, being identifiably female is really important,” Mitchell said by email. “I want people to realise that the minorities do exist. And for the minorities themselves: to be able to see that they aren’t the only ones … it can certainly feel that way some days.”

Another developer, Isabel Drost-Fromm, whose profile picture on GitHub is a female cartoon character, said that she’s never experienced bias while working GitHub, but that she normally uses the site to work on projects with a team that already knows her and her work.

Jenny Bryan, a professor of statistics at the University of British Columbia, uses GitHub as a teacher and developer in R, a programming language. Her profile makes clear that she is a woman, and she doesn’t believe that she’s been discriminated against due to her gender.

“At the very most, men who don’t know me sometimes explain things to me that I likely understand better than they do,” she writes. “The men I interact with in the R community on GitHub know me and, if my genderhas any effect at all, I feel they go out of their way to support my efforts to learn and make more contributions.”

Bryan was more concerned with the paucity of women using GitHub than she was with the study’s results. “Where are the women?” she asks. One possibility she raises is the very openness of the open source community.

“In open source, no one is getting paid to manage the community,” she writes. “Thus often no one is thinking about how well the community is (or is not) functioning.”

That’s a pressing question for GitHub itself, which has faced serious charges of internal sexism which led to the resignation of co-founder and CEO Tom Preston-Werner in 2014. GitHub did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the study.

In 2013, GitHub installed a rug in its headquarters that read, “United Meritocracy of GitHub.” The rug was removed in 2014 after criticism from feminist commentators that, although meritocracy is a virtue that it is hard to disagree with in principle, it doesn’t do much for diversity in the workplace. CEO Chris Wanstrath tweeting, “We thought ‘meritocracy’ was a neat way to think of open source but now we see the problems with it. Words matter. We’re getting a new rug.”

As the researchers of the pull request study wrote, “The frequent refrain that open source is a pure meritocracy must be reexamined.”

My POV: As one of the few females in the technology, analyst, software, digital transformation world, you would think that women would be highly sought after. It not for all the obvious reasons that help companies check off their requirements to support a gender neutral workplace, but also because women bring something very special to the workplace. An honest desire to do great work in collaboration with others.

I hope more companies who are saying they want to support women in technology, software, medicine and other typically male-dominated fields put their money where their mouth is and hire us. We are are ready and willing and capable of going the distance. I know when I was in graduate school, I was the only blonde female in my Ph. D. program. What does that say?

@DrNatalie, Ph. D. In Engineering, UCLA and VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research



Social Cloud Customer Service Has Dismantled the Old Marketing Funnel

Old Marketing Funnel Days: In the days before social media, marketers would target key customers and go through an awareness, desire, interest and then action (buying) process; essentially the old marketing function. The marketer would start with a large number of customers at the top of this so called “funnel” and as the customers in the “funnel” were approached, there would become fewer customers, narrowing down to those with the desire, interest and ending up with enough customers that would eventually take action and buy whatever was being offered.

The Way a Company Manages Their Social Media Can Destroy the “Old” Marketing Funnel. Today, we know that social media plays a significant role in the purchase decisions of potential buyers. That’s why the way a company manages their social media can turn consumers from brand advocates to troublesome trolls. And there’s an invisibility of social media that has completely destroyed the marketing funnel.

How Does Social Media #Fail Affect the “Old” Marketing Funnel? What do I mean by this? Let’s say I am a customer who is having issues and I post #fail and the brand’s name. And then let’s say there are 1, or 10 or 100 or 1,000 people who might have been interested in becoming aware of that company’s products and services. But because they saw my #fail, they make a mental note and a decision, unbeknownst to the brand, to never buy from that company. They saw the company didn’t have that customer back when they had a question or need help. And this is essentially why Social Cloud Customer Service is the New Marketing. How customers get treated in Customer Service and when they share that affects the future purchasing power of that pool of customers who might have been interested.

Customers Opt Out Without The Brand Even Knowing They’ve Lost a Customer Because those customers opted out, they will never be in the companies “old” marketing funnel. They may have had the potential to become part of a targeted segment that could have gone through the various stages of awareness, desire, interest and then action. However, because those customers saw the #fail post, they will never be a potential customers. Essentially the pool of customers that company might have drawn upon is now much smaller.

Loosing Customers You Didn’t Know You Lost. The company many not realize they lost those customers. They make still send out marketing messages. But it’s every likely that those customers who made mental note of how another customer was treated, will never respond to any marketing messages and never buy from that brand. And that’s what I mean about the customers disappearing or becoming invisible to a brand. They are no longer available to be marketed to. They will just ignore the marketing messages because they saw when I tried to get help, the company didn’t reach out in social media and try to help. And this is the invisibility that is affecting many companies and they don’t even realize that by poorly managing their social media, they have shrunk their customer base.

Managing Your Social Media Well Can Be a Customer Attractor. On the other hand, let’s say there is a customer who complains in social media and the company is paying attention. They are monitoring, listening and respond quickly and resolve the issue. 1 or 10 or 100 or 1,000 customers will have seen this and as a result, they make mental note of it. They might not be in the market for what the company is offering at that exact moment, but when they are and they have to choose a brand, they are going to choose a brand that has their back or a company that they have seen take care of another customer’s issue quickly and meet the customer expectations.

Not Responding To #Fail Is No Way To  Manage Your Current and Future Customers. The failure to meet or exceed those expectations can drive away new and existing customers. This is why I think the old “marketing funnel” has really been dismantled. With more and more companies turning to social media to communicate with consumers, it’s important to manage the channels in a way that builds brand loyalty and converts users into advocates. Today’s consumers turn to social media when they have a question about their purchase. The way your company manages customer service via social media can build brand loyalty & turn users into advocates.

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You can get the full infographic from IntelliResponse here.

Where do you stand? Are you monitoring, listening and responding? Or are you not even paying attention to social media?

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst

Constellation Research, Covering Customer-Facing Applications that Create Awesome Customer Experiences


The Secret to Success in IoT: Microsoft Partner ICONICS Shares It’s IoT Cloud Experiences

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? The Internet of Things (IoT) is a hot topic these days. Unlike many overhyped technology visions over the years, IoT has the underpinnings today to start happening throughout the developed world. Sensors everywhere. Ubiquitous mobile wireless communications. Powerful data analytics. Graphic visualization tools.

Although the Internet of Things (IoT) often refers to connected devices in a personal or industrial setting, it also has the potential to unlock vast opportunities in many cities today, from energy management in civic buildings to traffic monitoring to public services. But that wealth of possibilities can be overwhelming to local governments, as public agencies try to find ways to get started with IoT while making the most of limited resources. The CityNext blog has some  advice from guest blogger Melissa Topp of Microsoft partner ICONICS: Don’t try to do it all at once. Instead, pick one thing and spend time getting it right before expanding your Cloud IOT program.

So Pick Your Best Bet And Get Started on IoT! ICONICS works with Microsoft to deliver cutting-edge tools for infrastructure, mobility and analytics, on a Microsoft Azure cloud platform that reduces capital investment and dramatically expands data storage and processing capabilities. In her post, Topp explains how a recent smart energy management project for Peirce Elementary School in Arlington, Mass., illustrates the keys to success for cities’ IoT Cloud deployments. By starting with a single project — in this case, cutting summer operating costs in a school building — then focusing on that problem until they had it right, and finally expanding their program in phases, the school’s administrators were able to discover and resolve equipment problems and lower energy costs. Topp’s experience is a good reminder to businesses in any industry that IoT deployments don’t have to be massive and overwhelming to make an impact.

Want To learn More About How Microsoft IoT Helps Cities and Businesses? Here’s a link to understand how this can happen and while you are taking a look at this consider how, when a city changes how it does things, how does that affect the experience of the customer of that city? It’s huge!

IoT Can Be Daunting for City Governments. After all, with just one of Google’s self-driving cars gathering 750 MB of sensor data every second of driving time, the amount of data that a fully wired city would generate in a second would have to be in the petabytes. What’s more, cities would have to figure out where to put all that data. It’d be a bigger problem than Boston had finding places to put all its snow during last winter’s relentless blizzards! But it doesn’t have to be daunting. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Think of IoT as the same thing. Don’t try to do everything. Just pick one aspect of your business where it will have a real impact to revenue generation, cost savings, and the customer experience.

Wired (IoT) Cities Drive Better Experiences. Nonetheless, cities around the world are “wiring up,” as the many Microsoft CityNext customer stories can attest. Among those cities are also many ICONICS customers. They’re successfully transforming themselves through greater operational visibility and efficiencies using our HMI/SCADA, mobility, and analytics tools for cutting-edge energy and sustainability solutions.

In working with hundreds of cities worldwide, we’ve found that their successful deployments typically have three common hallmarks that we might call “secrets” of their success.

  • First, they chose one place to start, many with a specific need in their municipal utilities, water treatment facilities, transportation systems, or schools.
  • Second, they focused their limited resources and energies on that starting point to ensure it worked, taking as many lessons as they could from it.
  • Third, they didn’t try to solve everything at once, but rolled out their deployments in phases.

What is An Example of a City That Has Gone Down The IoT Path? Arlington, Massachusetts, a town of 43,000 people six miles northwest of Boston, started with the need of its public schools to consolidate summer operations into one building, Peirce Elementary School. To help save air-conditioning costs, the district bought a new chiller, but it also sought energy management software. After evaluating competitors’ offerings, it chose ICONICS Facility AnalytiX hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Using Azure eliminated the need for any upfront capital expenditures in IT infrastructure.

Facility AnalytiX uses advanced Fault Detection and Diagnostics (FDD) technology. FDD works via customizable fault rules that weigh the probability of equipment failure. It then alerts staff to actions they can take when faults occur.

IoT Focus Helps Save Time and Money. When equipment fails, the software analyzes current and historical information (along with symptom/cause relationships), executes predictive algorithms, and provides a list of possible causes sorted by probability. This information is securely available to all key stakeholders from desktops, browsers and smart devices such as Microsoft Surface tablets. FDD helped the district cut the time its HVAC contractors spend searching for malfunctions by as much as 20 percent.

The Facility AnalytiX software also showed that the chiller was unnecessarily turning itself on and off every five minutes. This cost the district energy and would potentially reduce the chiller’s lifespan, as constant cycling would put more wear on the equipment. The software helped the district save 20 percent of its energy consumption the first winter after installation.

When You Implement IoT, Phase it in With Fast, Easy Cloud Scalability. With the success of Arlington’s deployment of smart energy-management software in that single elementary school, the town is already working to adopt it to another school. And government buildings are likely candidates for additional deployments. In other words, it found one place to start; focused its resources on making it work; and is taking a phased approach.

With Microsoft Azure, adding those buildings to Arlington’s Facility AnalytiX operations dashboard is fast, easy, and economical. That’s because, by simply connecting to existing HVAC equipment, sensors, and SCADA network hookups, Azure can spin up another instance of Facility AnalytiX with just a series of mouse clicks.

Arlington is just one of many examples from the ICONICS customer base of a city that is implementing IoT — sometimes without actually realizing it — to improve operational visibility and lower costs. As the town adds more buildings to its smart-energy network, those benefits will continue to grow.

With Microsoft Azure, it won’t need to add any IT infrastructure that requires money, maintenance, repairs, and upgrades. In effect, Microsoft Azure is a standby IT resource for Arlington, just waiting to be tapped whenever new demands arise.

Want to Learn More About Cities, Clouds and IoT? For more ICONICS IoT customer stories or to learn more about ICONICS products and solutions, visit Learn more about ICONICS’ smart city solutions on Twitter. Follow Microsoft CityNext on Twitter for news, trends, and smart city solutions.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Cloud, IOT and Customer Experiences